How does the Public Land Grab movement, or the Bundy situation affect our wild horses and burros?
Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, Board of Directors
Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association, Founder/Director
March 19, 2016
Going to the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC)
I was interested to see how environmentalists might answer this question
but first let me answer it from my perspective.
To give you a little history first we are speaking of public lands in 11
states where politicians and special interest groups have tried to turn
‘ownership’ and/or management over to states.
The movement is called the Sagebrush Rebellion, which in the past has also been called the "silent revolution." There have been 3 major times in history we've seen it rear up, and several times in between that are smaller or shorter incidents....so did it really ever end once it began?
The first instance was in West in the 1890's. It was sparked by the "conservation movement." The conservation movement was the first time in our country's history that people wanted regulations to stop the mass rape of our land, and destruction of the ranges. Many bills and acts came in to play to achieve those goals thus creating the divide between western ranchers and miners who had never had any limits put on their public land use.
and it began in Nevada in the summer of 1979.
It created a war between the federal government and some westerners over the question of federal ownership and regulation of western public lands.
The reason for the rebellion was, and still is, the belief that excessive federal control and regulation of the western public lands strips people and states of their rights. Rights such as; grazing cattle on public lands, rights to mine it, and rights to generate tax base from it. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, said it limits peoples' rights to control their own "destiny."
This movement was most recently ignited by Cliven Bundy, a rancher in Nevada who owes over
$1 million in grazing fees to Americans, and whose ideologies twist the
constitution and fail to recognize the U.S. government exists.
There are several organizations and politicians who support this movement.
They can be broken into 3 different branches of the land seizure movement:
- Ideological Framework
- Legislative Supporters
- Influencers and Echo Chamber
Who are the players and what are they thinking?
Ideological framework is the movements beliefs that are rooted in extreme anti-government
beliefs (Posse Comitatus and County Supremacy. Below is a list of current groups and
individuals involved in Public Lands issues. The names of organizations are frequently changed
so the list cannot be done in entirety but we'll update often:
|Name of Group
||What They Believe
||How are they Involved
||Oath Keepers are former military and armed services veterans.They arm themselves
and take a vow to "disobey unconstitutional" orders. They believe the government is increasingly
tyrannical. Members number in the 30,000 range. Recent activities have included but are not limited
to: Guard Ferguson, Missouri, offer advice on Jade Helm Conspiracy Theory in Texas, staged the armed
stand-off at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, closed off a public road to defend a miner breaking the law on
public lands at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and staged an armed takeover and month long stand-off of
the federal headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon
||Oath Keepers support the idea of public land seizures on the websites and their president,
Stewart Rhodes stated that the federal government stole public lands at statehood from Nevada.
| Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association
|| 'CSPOA' believes that federal law enforcement officials have exceeded their Constitutional
authority. Southern Poverty Law Center stated that CSPOA's leader, Richard Mack (a former sheriff)
"has become the biggest proselytizer of county sheriff supremacy, the idea that the sheriffs are the
highest law enforcement authority. Legal experts say the notion, which gives rise to the term,
'constitutional sheriffs,' has no standing in historical or modern jurisprudence."
||Sheriff Mack encourages the belief that federal authority is to be ignored and at times fought
with statements like, "I don't believe that the BLM has any authority whatsoever..." He made this
statement at a Bundy Ranch press conference.
|Militia of Montana
||Militia was founded by John Trochman, known white supremacist. Known as MOM and is one of the best known paramilitary 'patriot' militias and started in the 1990s. Trochman in 2011, admitted MOM was turning organizing efforts to a new group focused on public lands. He stated "we (the militia) have a little organization called the Sanders Natural Resource Council."
||The Sanders Natural Resource Council publicly and vocally supported Senator Jennifer Fielder of Montana in her public lands seizure efforts.
|Council of Conservative Citizens
||They follow the doctrine of white supremacy. They came under scrutiny when tenets were named by the man who killed 9 black South Carolinians in June 2015.
||Posts on their website show support for the anti-government protesters at the Bundy Ranch and Malheur Occupation. They stated of the Bundy Ranch stand-off that, "The people of Nevada are being denied the right to graze cattle, drill wells, or mine for raw materials...By keeping the land under Federal government, the Federal government use mining rights as a reward for political allies and punish political enemies." Their website highlights the land seizure issues.
|Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theorists
||These radical conspiracy theorists believe that Agenda 21, which is a non-binding 1992 United Nations resolution that promotes sustainable development, is "a key step in secret plans to destroy property rights, redistribute wealth and ultimately, force the United States and other countries into a tyrannical, one-world government."The High Country news stated that anti-Agenda 21 activists are "increasingly influential" in the West and have "sabotaged planning efforts nationwide."
||One of the leading conspiracy theorists, Alex Jones has made a bridge between Agenda 21 and public lands stating that the Bureau of Land Management has "an obsession to grab more (land) so that the dictates of Agenda 21 can be implemented."
I mentioned 2 of the evolving philosophies of the land seizure movement that are the main ideologies
but there are 2 others we see emerging. Below is a list of all 4 of these extremist ideologies
that are continually evolving:
- Posse Comitatus - became prominent in the 1970s and 80s, members believe that the federal
government has no law enforcement authority and that citizens are authorized to form posses
to use force and violence to defend the Constitution; movement has been alive all these years
and was seen in 2012 (shooting of law enforcement officers) and in 2015 when a Colorado state
senator invoked it in a debate over a public land seizure bill.
- Sovereign Citizens - individuals of this ideology believe they are not US citizens therefore
do not need to follow its laws, the movement was first seen in the 1980s but has been growing
quickly since 2000.
- County Supremacy - which is the belief that Federal government has no right to public lands,
or any authority on them and that the county sheriff is the final authority on any issue
relating to public lands.
- Land seizure movement - proponents of land seizures use quasi-legal arguments trying to prove
their belief that federal government promised to give public lands to the states when they
entered the Union, thus the belief that the government and the American public in general have
no right to public lands.
Debunking the ideologies, and Constitutional Twists.
The first you can decide the truth of for yourself: The mythology that the rich bounty of the West had been purposely set aside by God for the use of man, and not to be owned or controlled by the federal government.
Next is the ideology that the Federal government cannot own public lands.
When western states entered the Union their admission bills contained the understanding that they entered on "equal footing" with other states. Anti-government ideologists believe this did not happen, instead they believe the states were forced to relinquish title to the public lands lying within the states. For example: Colorado's Enabling Act, said that the state would "forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands" lying within it, and that the lands would "remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States." So, at statehood, the states gave up ownership and control of public lands to the federal government, but when they didn't like the restrictions on that land...rebellion ensued.
With reference to the "rights" of the states, the arguments about "equal footing" were legally baseless. First, the doctrine had no constitutional foundation. Equal footing never appeared or was implied in the constitution, and without constitutional basis it is moot.
The assertion that public land was stolen by the government is not true. Many states gave up land in return for townships and the value of township lands. Most states wanted the federal government to shoulder the burden financially of maintaining the public lands, so were willing to give them up.
In essence, the states sold their birthright only to argue about the agreement signed later by demanding cession and other entitlements.
Many people have seen the pocket Constitution many of these anti-government people carry around and tout for cameras during protests and armed stand-offs. That specific document was authored by W. Cleon Skousen, once referred to by TIME Magazine as “an exemplar of the right-wing ultras.”
Skousen’s commentary has long been mocked for attempting to bridge the constitution and religion, making it a favorite among zealots and anti-government rebels like the Oregon “patriots.” It preaches the idea that America was founded as a “Christian Nation.”
Not only does Skousen add his own thoughts to pervert the actual constitution but the thoughts of some of the founders themselves are taken completely out of context and used as talking points to sell a disturbing message. For example, John Adams, who said, ““Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” was taken from a letter to militia (not the constitution) intended to see them do more good deeds for the people.
The proper form of government is apparently one discredited right-wing nutjob’s distorted views of a document that has been proven time and time again to have nothing to do with religion. The modern conservative just loves it, however, because it embodies everything they believe in. With the Skousen atrocity of critical thought in their pockets, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to see that they can do whatever they want while denying actual constitutional rights to people who disagree with them.
Third, as we saw recently the terrorists in Oregon decided to use one very portion of the pamphlet, “The Enclave Clause,” which they believe means that the federal government cannot own land. They believe that because it says it, right there in black in white, in the Skousen twisted version of the constitution.
Apparently the pocket version is abridged and doesn't include the.Property Clause. Pursuant to Article Four, section 3, clause 2 of the United States Constitution. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that this section empowers Congress to retain federal lands, to regulate federal lands such as by limiting cattle grazing, and to sell such lands.
They have also left out, Article 3 Section 2, which clearly reserves the right to decide matters of law and equity arising under the Constitution to the Supreme Court, who typically (though not always) rely on a couple of centuries of precedent to make decisions. under any circumstances, decades of American history and tradition affirmed the power of Congress to hold and manage (and dispose of) the public domain any way it saw fit.
Who are the Legislative Supporters and how are they helping the land seizure movement?
Of the 11 western states where legislative sessions heard proposals to take over public lands in 2015, 9 of those legislators have ties to the extremists groups or subscribe to the ideologies of the anti-government movement.
The pinnacle of these legislators is Ken Ivory, a Utah Representative. Mr. Ivory contends that the government promised to give land back to the states in an effort to support claims that the federal government has no legal right to public lands. Legal experts have debunked his twisted legal arguments every time.
Mr. Ivory has also publicly endorsed the ideology of County Supremacy by signing a resolution by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. This organization will be discussed later in this report. The resolution states “arrest of citizens or seizure of persons or property without first notifying and obtaining the express consent of the local sheriff” is not legal and would not be permitted. Mr. Ivory also supports the organization’s ideology that the sheriff must take action to resist the government.
Below is a chart showing each state, legislator and bill introduced along with the connections to extremists groups and/or ideologies.
There are many, MANY elected officials who support the public lands seizure and either belong to
or have strong ties to extremists groups. I have put together a chart and will be updating it
periodically. The chart shows each state, legislator, and bill introduced along with the connections to extremists groups and/or ideologies.
These legislative efforts echo the demands of militant rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ryan
and Ammon, that the federal government cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to
state, county, and private interests. A federal grand jury in Las Vegas last week indicted the
Bundys on conspiracy charges for leading armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in
2014 and in Oregon earlier this year.
CLICK BELOW TO SEE IF YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE PART OF THIS MOVEMENT
Legislative Network in Land Seizure Movement - complete chart here
Who are the Influencers and What is an Echo Chamber?
Why has Representative Ivory been as successful in this movement as he has? How has this legal twisted movement even been able to grow and take hold? The answer is through the use of high profile “thought leaders” or influencers. When they speak and repeat the rhetoric of legislators like Ken Ivory or Extremist groups like the American Lands Council, they act as an amplifier or echo chamber to get the message out to the general public. Some are discredited experts that have helped design and promote the convoluted legal and historical justifications for the claim that the federal government has no right to public lands.
A list of these people include:
- David Barton - discredited historian who authored a now recalled history book because basic truth was lacking or absent; Rep. Ivory consulted him t work on aspects of his lands bill and appeared on Barton’s WallBuilders radio show at least 4 times to promote public lands seizure.
- Alex Jones - host of talk show and website Infowars, known as the most prominent conspiracy theorist in modern America; according to SPLC is notorious for speeches about the New World Order’ plots for world government, enforced eugenics, secret internment camps, militarized police and secret control by a global corporate cabal; he’s also been involved in fanning flames in the Jade Helm conspiracy theory in Texas; Rep. Ivory has been on his show in January of 2015 to discuss public lands at which time Jones cited that the “U.N., UNESCO, others, claim most of the federal lands in this country as collateral on the national debt…”
- Glen Beck - conservative political commentator, was with Fox News and now runs his own media network (The Blaze); touted in 2010 as the most highly regarded individual among the Tea Party and is perceived to be an educator; published a book on Agenda21 stating “a UN-led program spawned an authoritarian state where individuals are stripped of all personal rights and freedoms.”; stated President Obama has “a deep seated hatred for white people”; Rep. Ivory appeared on Beck’s show, April 2014, to promote seizure of public lands; Beck expressed to viewers that :This is an avenue that actually seems to have some real teeth and could work.”
- Doyel Shamely - CEO of Veritas Research Consulting, many time expert witness on land management; conspiracy theorist; hosted an online radio show (The Hour of the Time), a pod cast supposedly exposing the New World Order’s attack on America; involved with extremist group Anti-Agenda 21 group called Defend Rural America; Rep. Ivory posts video of Shamelys’ on the American Lands Council Facebook Page and said it was a “must watch."
The Center for Western Priorities calls this connection between Rep. Ivory and these influencers a “bridge between the extreme and the mainstream.” So the way this ties together is by Representative Ivory having one foot in the activism door (the American Lands Council, where he is president) and the other foot in the door as an elected official able to facilitate this whole legislative move to a mainstream political debate over public lands policy.
As the activist he has wooed anti-government groups and extremist groups such as; the right-wing echo chamber we talked about above and patriot groups such as Montana’s Sanders Natural Resources Council (directly linked to the Militia of Montana), Colorado Mesa County Patriots (believes the Federal Reserve is an unconstitutional institution.)
As the elected official he has been able to do the following:
- Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio support legislation endorsing land transfers in the US Senate. Sen Rand Paul also stated he would sell or turn over all land management to states. Rick Santorum also called for a federal transfer to states
- Senator Murkowski got 51 members of the US Senate to vote in favor of a non-binding amendment in budget resolution that endorsed land sell-offs and transfers
- Utah Reps Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop in 2015 developed the Federal Lands Action Group to “develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control.”
- Multiple bills have been introduced and/or moved through Congress supporting the give away or sale of public lands
- Republican National Committee endorsed imminent transfer of public lands to all willing states in 2014 platform
HOW does this relate to America’s Native Wild Horses & other Wildlife?
Our public lands are widely exploited for resource extraction today, with private corporations making many millions of dollars drilling for oil, mining for coal or metals, logging trees, and commercial cattle grazing on lands that belong to you and me. Also we have millions of hikers, campers, hunters and anglers who use these wild places for things other than making money. And finally we have the wildlife habitat, clean water and open space that America’s public lands provide.
Many millions of American taxpayers cherish our wild horses. If lands are transferred or sold off to states what will happen?
Our wild horses will be displaced by every decision made by states to ensure the land is making money to support it. Ranchers, who have the money will be allowed MORE of the land to graze livestock, fence off MORE of the water that is so little in arid climates, and calling for not only the removal of our wild horses but every other wild animal that hurts their profit line.
- States will loose PILT (tax income)
- States will have to develop and fund agencies to mange these lands (raising taxes)
- Public access may be limited
- Land may be sold to the highest bidder
- Politicians, will give favor to the organizations and special interest groups discussed in this report in decisions on the use of these lands
- Ownership of lands will be taken from Americans
- Native American lands will be turned over to states who may not protect the sacred sites and holy lands
- Wildlife will have NO federal protections
- More mining will cause more pollution, and destruction of lands
- Removal of wildlife will cause trophic cascades* in the ecosystems
For more information follow us on Facebook:
Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association
Citizens Against Equine Slaughter
Wild Horse Observers Association
and/or Wild Horse Action Group.
*Next report will be on trophic cascade involving wild horses.